Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Murphy case: stranger and stranger

This case gets weirder and weirder

Could I refer you to the article by William McGurn in today`s Wall Street Journal entitled "The Pope and the New York Times"

It is an excellent article and should be read as an unasnwerable criticism of the original New York Times article which has caused such a furore.

But in it there is a very interesting passage

He states:

"Martin Nussbaum, a lawyer who is not involved in the Murphy case but who has defended other dioceses and churches in sexual abuse suits, emailed me four interesting letters sent to Murphy from three Wisconsin bishops. These documents are not among those posted online by the Times. They are relevant, however, because they refute the idea that Murphy went unpunished.

In fact, the letters from these bishops—three in 1993 and one in 1995, after fresh allegations of Murphy's misconduct—variously informed the priest that he was not to celebrate the sacraments in public, not to have any unsupervised contact with minors, and not to work in any parish religious education program."

The four letters sent to Murphy by the Bishops are exhibited on the site`s sidebar.

It is clear that after 1974 there were fresh allegations of misconduct against Murphy in the early 1990s and that restrictions were imposed as a result.

These letters are totally contrary to what Murphy said in his letter of appeal to the CDF dated 12th January 1998 - paragraph 2:

"There have been no further accusations against me since I left St John`s in 1974"

The citation against Murphy was in respect of acts committed in the period 1950 to 1974. No mention was made of the later allegations. The Libellus in 1996 against Murphy states (page 32):

"the Reverend Lawrence C. Murphy, a priest incardinated in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and domiciled in the Diocese of Superior, who stands accused of certainoffenses cited in Canons 1387, 1388.1 and 1395.2, did in fact commit the delicts of which he is accused, namely, that over the period of several years encompassing his tenure at St. John School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, [i.e. that is from 1950 to 1974] Wisconsin, he did engage in a pattern of behavior."

Murphy pleaded time bar because the alleged acts of misconduct were in the period 1950-74.

At the meeting of the CDF Archbishop Bertone and the others appeared not to know of the more recent alleged acts of misconduct or of the four letters from the Bishops

Otherwise why would they constantly stress that the alleged acts of misconduct occurred thirty five years before.

Further Bertone and the CDF did not appear to know that there Murphy already was restricted to acting within the Diocese of Superior.

The Italian version of the CDF memo states:

"2. His Excellency the Secretary of the CDF – stressing both ... and the fact that there have been no reports of other crimes perpetrated or scandals created by Murphy during these years in Superior – maintains that there is insufficient information to instruct a canonical process."
Note that Bertone took it as a material fact that Murphy had kept his nose clean in Superior for 25 years and there was no report that he had offended again.

The "Yahoo version" of the same sentence in paragraph 2 states:

"2. The Secretary CDF underlined the long period of time by now departed (more than 35 years!) from when they took place, that it also constitutes a true canonical problem, and the fact that no other accusations news of crimes or scandals have arisen from during the years to he has been in Superior and that there are not enough elements to instruct a canonical trial."
The "Yahoo version" in this regard is pretty much unintelligible.

If the CDF did know, why did Bertone recommend a territorial restriction be placed on him to restrict his celebration of the Eucharist to the Diocese of Superior ? See paragraph 2 of the CDF`s memo in Italian of the meeting

The Italian version of the Memo provides that Bertone said:

"For precautionary reasons, he can be ordered to celebrate the Eucharist only in the diocese of Superior, especially since this is agreed to both by his Ordinary i.e. the Archbishop of Milwaukee and the Ordinary of the place where he resides. But such a provision must be communicated to him in writing. "

The "Yahoo version" states:

"Yet it notices and unacceptable that he can celebrate the Eucharist in the community of the deaf community of Milwaukee; the diocese will need therefore to prevent him from celebrating Eucharist, and may also recourse to some penal remedies."

Further why did the Italian memorandum state as part of its conclusion:

"5. His Excellency the Secretary finally sums up the two central points of the line to be followed in regard to the priest, in a word: 1) the territorial restriction of the celebration of the Eucharist"

Perhaps the reason is to be found in Paragraph 3 of the Italian memorandum:

"Nevertheless, he [Bertone] stresses, it will be necessary to make Murphy reflect seriously on the grave nature of the evil he has done and on the fact that he will have to give proofs of reformation. (emphasis added)"

If the more recent allegations against Murphy in the 1990s and the four letters sent by the Bishops had been exhibited to Archbishop Bertone and the members of the CDF, it is hard to see that Bertone and the CDF would have recommended caution about pursuing the case and requiring further action before the canonical trial could take place. Murphy would not have had a hope in hell of proving that he had reformed.

One wonders why these four letters of the Bishops to Murphy and the events leading up to them were withheld from Archbishop Bertone and the other members of the CDF

And if they had not been withheld, one wonders why the Archdiocese on receiving the Italian memorandum and the "Yahoo translation" of the Memorandum, the Archdiocese did not write back immediately to Archbishop Bertone and the CDF pointing out that they had made a serious error of fact.

The "Yahoo translation" does after all report that Bertone had said: "and the fact that no other accusations news of crimes or scandals have arisen from during the years to he has been in Superior "

Copies of the four letters are below for ease of reference.